"The Accident Swindlers" - Pamela Zekman, Gene Mustain - Chicago Sun-Times and WLS-TV

Reportage

Description

The series was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and won a local Emmy award for WLS-TV. "Cashing in on crashes. "Thousands collect each year. They fake injuries and turn minor bump-and-bruise automobile accidents into an estimated $3 billion annual bonanza. "That is the accident swindle. It is masterminded by unscrupulous lawyers and ambulance chasers. They tell their clients how to fake pain. They are aided by crooked clinics and doctors eager to play along for profit. "During an eight-month investigation, reporters from the Sun-Times and WLS-TV (Channel 7) infiltrated the swindle and learned how it works. "With the cooperation of the Chicago Police Department and Allstate Insurance, reporters posed as victims of minor automobile accidents that never occurred. . . ." Editor Ralph Otwell described the project as having "documented the fraudulent legal and medical practices which add one-third higher premiums to every driver's insurance bill. "

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Newspaper

Effects and Outcomes

The series was a finalist (the runner-up) for the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Special Local Investigative Reporting.

Articles, Books, Video/Film